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Friday, January 25, 2013

Posnanski reviews “Trouble with the Curve”

Maybe the movie didn’t have enough of the invisible President bit?

In so, so, so many ways TWTC does a much greater disservice to scouts that it does to the stat people. Heck, it merely makes stats-people into unrecognizably cartoonish figures who hate baseball but want to work in it so they can take over the world with their baffling “batting average” statistics. Big deal.

But scouts … this movie was supposed to celebrate them. Instead it makes grumpy and unfunny old men* who have some sort of weird super-power ability to hear drifting hands. This is exactly the stale depiction of scouts that Moneyball did such a good job of lampooning in the first place….

But here’s the point: If you want to celebrate a scout, why wouldn’t you have him NOTICE all these things. This gets at the very heart of what scouts do. They watch the games. They talk to the players. They learn all about the families. They listen to the fans. If you are doing a whole movie about what scouts can tell you that computer can’t—this is very crux of the argument. One of my favorite scout stories involves a scout in Venezuela who saw a kid play. He was too small, he was too slow, he couldn’t hit a lick. But the scout loved him, loved him because he had these beautiful soft hand, the ball just stuck to his glove, velcro, and he had this marvelous arm and this wonderful attitude. The scout kept following around the kid—there was something about him.

He called the GM personally to plead the case. He said he only needed $5,000 to sign the kid. $5K. It was nothing. The GM said no. Kid can’t run. Kid can’t hit. Who cares about soft hands? The scout said, “Fine, I’ll put up the 5K myself and prove you wrong.” The GM was impressed with that and he liked the scout a lot and he said, “OK, fine, you can have 5K.”

The player turned out to be Andres Blanco—not a star, certainly, not even an everyday player. But the guy got 654 plate appearances in the big leagues, made some dazzling defensive plays and was one hell of a deal for $5,000.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 25, 2013 at 03:29 PM | 426 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: andres blanco, clint eastwood, films, hollywood, movies, posnanski, scouts, trouble with the curve

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   101. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 07:16 PM (#4356935)
Flip
   102. JE (Jason) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 07:18 PM (#4356937)
If I recall correctly, Howard Stern once blamed the film Awakenings for being the point in time when Robin Williams elected to mostly forego comedy and DeNiro chose to mostly forego serious roles.
   103. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:15 PM (#4356976)
I did like the scenes between Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams. They're both pretty charming on screen.


The fact that scenes between Justin freaking Timberlake and Amy Adams were likely the best written, acted and directed scenes in that movie (a baseball movie starring Clint Eastwood) is in and off itself pretty damning.

OTOH, I didn't realize that the bad guy assistant GM was Matthew Illiard until right at the end, he was pretty useless as a heavy, but it wasn't until the end that he actually stepped out of character to do his patented Illiard-doofuss face mugging that I realized who he was- for Illiard that's a massive improvement, one day he very well may become a competent mediocre role player.

I mean who on earth (other than Uwe Bol) would cast Illiard as your main heavy???
The fact that he managed to play it almost straight while shaven and wearing a suit was actually quite remarkable...

OTOH Robert Patrick's hissy fit upon discovering that his team had just blown the #1 overall pick on a guy who couldn't hit a curve OR CATCH UP TO A POPCORN VENDOR'S FASTBALL, was likely similar to what a real GM would do under such circumstances... or maybe not (who signed Matt Bush?)
   104. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:18 PM (#4356979)
An interesting question is who are the current twenty or thirty-something actors who are going to maintain long careers and/or establish themselves as directors, and generally be guys that remain relevant into their 60s.

Ben Affleck is 40 and may not qualify, but whomever else is a candidate has a lot of catching up to do on the directoral side.
   105. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:24 PM (#4356983)
Pale Rider came out the next year, and while it had echoes of High Plains Drifter, it was also well received.

Echoes? I assume Pale Rider was the answer to abet where some said, "what kind of film could you make if you combined Shane* with High Plains Drifter?

I also kind of see High Plains Drifter as a sequel to the alternate universe version of High Noon (one where Gary Cooper gets killed)

Then in 1993, he made A Perfect World with Kevin Costner (although I don't think they are in a scene together until the very end), which was also a departure from his normal work.

Near the end when Eastwood realizes that Costner's hand gestures were going to be misinterpreted by the police marksman- there was a look of genuine terror Eastwood's face- that I don't believe that Eastwood had ever displayed before (granted in most of his signature roles his characters were supposed to be fearless badasses...)

*How many people watched that film and don't realize that Shane dies at the end? That he rides off because he knows he's a goner and doesn't want the boy to watch him bleed out and die?
   106. McCoy Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:27 PM (#4356984)
*How many people watched that film and don't realize that Shane dies at the end? That he rides off because he knows he's a goner and doesn't want the boy to watch him bleed out and die?

Probably lots as a discussion of this very scene was in a movie not too long ago.
   107. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:29 PM (#4356986)
Saw an interview with Michael Caine where the interviewer actually asked him why he'd appeared in so many awful movies. He looked surprised for a moment and then said something very close to, "their checks cleared". (and added something like I act for a living)

he a good impressionist, too
   108. Every Inge Counts Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:33 PM (#4356988)
Ben Affleck is 40 and may not qualify, but whomever else is a candidate has a lot of catching up to do on the directoral side.


First name to pop to my mind. What a great career revival for Affleck, from sort of a joke as an actor to big-time director. I really enjoyed all three of his movies he has done so far.

Sarah Polley will probably maintain a career doing indie type movies, I know both of her movies she has directed have been solidly acclaimed (Away from Her and Take this Waltz). Mark Duplass and Lena Dunham also will probably do well in the indie world as well.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt directed a movie that premiered at Sundance, Don Jon's Addiction. I know the AV Club Review hated it, but it has 3 fresh reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

The nearly perfect Lake Bell also got good reviews for her movie In a World..
   109. phredbird Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:34 PM (#4356989)
Ben Affleck is 40 and may not qualify, but whomever else is a candidate has a lot of catching up to do on the directoral side.


after gigli and pearl harbor i had him written off. he's done a neat career save since then.
   110. phredbird Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:35 PM (#4356990)
coke to inge.
   111. phredbird Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:38 PM (#4356992)
he a good impressionist, too


thats a riot.
   112. Every Inge Counts Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:44 PM (#4356995)
Guess I should add James Franco who has decided to take on both As I Lay Dying and Child of God to adapt to the screen (and Franco has directed before, but nothing big).
   113. Buzzards Bay Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4356998)
"What's going on out there that we can sell"
"Product"
"Hype"
It's tough to sell outside of 'core demand' so it was surprising we didn't hear and see something about 'socialism' where everyone jumps into the bushes
that bends to a percentage of GDP
and inflation
laments and the threat of Iran

Red Sox and Dodgers and Marlins in 2013 !
   114. Into the Void Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:55 PM (#4356999)
I thought Franco was trying to do Blood Meridian?
   115. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:59 PM (#4357002)
I just saw Argo the other day in the annual "watch the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars so I can kvetch about who wins." It was incredibly well directed, with very good ratcheting tension for a film you already know the ending to. Affleck is a very solid director these days.

I also saw Zero Dark Thirty, which is like Triumph of the Will and Birth of a Nation, a brilliantly made movie endorsing horrific behavior and policy. #### Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal.
   116. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:03 PM (#4357004)
Guess I should add James Franco who has decided to take on both As I Lay Dying

For a long time I really hoped somebody, someday, would cast Eastwood as Thomas Sutpen in Absalom, Absalom!
Now he's just too damn old.

EDIT: several good young filmmakers that I'm looking to see how things turn out for them - Sarah Polley, Sofia Coppola, and (now) Ben Affleck.
I guess Coppola doesn't really count as an "actress," but I'm glad she started directing movies.
   117. Publius Publicola Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:30 PM (#4357022)
#### Kathryn Bigelow


Leni Riefenstahl redux.

I saw Zero Dark Thirty last week and was sorely disappointed. The script was bad and the performance by Jessica Chastain was terrible. Way, way overrated movie.

That it portrayed torture by CIA agents as though it was SOP was the cherry on top.
   118. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:33 PM (#4357024)
That it portrayed torture by CIA agents as though it was SOP was the cherry on top.


As SOP and also the only way to get information, I turned against the movie fully when the CIA guy was whining to the stand in for Donilon about how they couldn't get any information about the Abottabad compound without torturing people. #### you, Boal.

eta: Of course, having Stannis Baratheon as the NSA was also off-putting, and not merely because he couldn't hide his accent.
   119. OsunaSakata Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:47 PM (#4357030)
I guess Coppola doesn't really count as an "actress," but I'm glad she started directing movies.


She's was okay in The Phantom Menace. Better than Jar-Jar at any rate.
   120. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:06 PM (#4357043)
She's was okay in The Phantom Menace. Better than Jar-Jar at any rate.

She did okay as the baby during the baptism scene in The Godfather.
   121. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:34 PM (#4357052)
he a good impressionist, too


Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, from The Trip, trying to one up each other with their Michael Caine impressions.
   122. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:35 PM (#4357053)
At least Meet the Parents had the sense to derive from something occasionally hilarious, the estimable There's Something About Mary.


Meet the Parents is a remake of a film produced by comedic genius Emo Phillips.
   123. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:50 PM (#4357063)
It's like they filmed the cliffs notes instead of the script.
That's pretty much exactly what I was thinking on my way out of Argo. Perfectly good 2hr movie, but it seems like a LOT got cut out, particularly on the characters. There's a few throwaway lines by the hostages that hint at backstories that aren't explained, and Affleck's relationship with his wife is reduced to "Look folks, he got the girl, you can cheer now!" I mean, apart from movie cliche, why even include that at the end if you're not going to set it up? I'd have loved a 3hr cut (####, maybe a miniseries) that fleshed out the relationships between the hostages, explained Affleck's fam situation, etc....; seems like rather than do a full take on either, both got truncated. Still a perfectly enjoyable film, but meh. Not sure if that's on the writer or the director or the studio or whatever.
   124. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: January 28, 2013 at 10:51 PM (#4357066)
She's was okay in The Phantom Menace. Better than Jar-Jar at any rate.

She'd have to channel Meryl Streep for a good long while to even begin to remove the stain of GFIII.
   125. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:22 PM (#4357078)
I also saw Zero Dark Thirty, which is like Triumph of the Will and Birth of a Nation, a brilliantly made movie endorsing horrific behavior and policy. #### Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal.


Wow. Totally the opposite of how I saw the movie. I'm not sure how you could watch the torture scenes and feel like the movie was endorsing torture. It seemed like a story about obsessed people pursuing a perhaps laudable goal, but by the end you're supposed to be asking yourself whether it was worth it.

The fact that the CIA guy ####### about not having the detainee program anymore didn't seem like an editorial stance in favor of the program, just like something a CIA guy would do. The main torturer on the other hand was the least confident Osama was in the complex because he didn't believe in the reliability of the information gained from the program.
   126. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:34 PM (#4357082)
The entirety of ZDT was a paean to how we need monsters to protect us, there was literally nothing shown about how torture is incredibly unreliable.

edit: Obviously this is from my viewpoint. But I went in expecting a hell of a lot more nuance than there was, and more given to how the process of intelligence work is (from my understanding) the long slow cultivation of datapoints into a coherent picture. Instead it seemed to me that it was mostly "torture works, and we'd have gotten Bin Laden sooner if we'd been more willing to torture and listen to the lady who inspired Maya" with the caveat that it showed how monomaniacal Maya was about the topic and that her certitude exceeded the evidence.
   127. McCoy Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:42 PM (#4357090)
I found Argo to be dull, slow paced, no real tension, no real characters, and no real story. Barely got to know any of the characters, barely got to know what was happening or why or what it all meant and it all builds up to what, a phone ringing? Not a good movie at all.
   128. Lassus Posted: January 28, 2013 at 11:51 PM (#4357094)
barely got to know what was happening or why or what it all meant

Even if I disagree, I can understand the other criticisms. This, however, what?
   129. Blastin Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:02 AM (#4357096)
Leni Riefenstahl? Jesus.

I found ZDT gripping, but I do understand if people disagree with how you see its relationship to the behavior of its characters.

I liked Argo fine. Won't be upset if it wins. I honestly liked all seven BP nominees that I have seen (I've seen Les Mis on Broadway and that was enough times; will get around to Amour eventually).

Note: This has never happened to me before. Usually something winning would really bother me. Les Mis would, I guess, but as I haven't seen it I can't really say much.
   130. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:12 AM (#4357104)
I also found ZDT gripping. It was really well done. I just feel gross having watched an excellent movie that I believe at it's core is aimed at justifying torture.
   131. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:16 AM (#4357108)
I just feel gross having watched an excellent movie that I believe at it's core is aimed at justifying torture.


I get this notion, but I have never felt like the case against torture was that it was ineffective. Whether it is effective or ineffective should be irrelevant. We should be repulsed by it because it is grossly immoral, and from what I have read (still haven't seen the film yet), the film does a good job showing how repulsive torture can be.

   132. McCoy Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:59 AM (#4357121)
Even if I disagree, I can understand the other criticisms. This, however, what?

I'm talking big picture. The Canadians and their roles, the danger, what it meant to America, the fallout, the aftermath, so on and so on. In the end it was several people looking kind of nervous in a house while several recognizable actors quipped some one liners in California.
   133. Blastin Posted: January 29, 2013 at 01:05 AM (#4357126)
I believe "at its core" it was about a Pyrrhic victory.
   134. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 29, 2013 at 02:13 AM (#4357148)
Wow. Totally the opposite of how I saw the movie. I'm not sure how you could watch the torture scenes and feel like the movie was endorsing torture. It seemed like a story about obsessed people pursuing a perhaps laudable goal, but by the end you're supposed to be asking yourself whether it was worth it.

I feel the same way about Saving Private Ryan. My GF thought it was a rah-rah-U-S-A, pro-war movie. I found that baffling.
GRAVEYARD! FLAGS! "TELL ME I'M A GOOD MAN"! ETC!
   135. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 29, 2013 at 03:59 AM (#4357155)
Jack Carter is to Eastwood what Bill James is to Rogers Hornsby :-)

Pshaw, sir!

Unforgiven is a tremendous film. I just don't see it as the residue of cinematic excellence, but rather the result of hard work and a lot of luck, the same way a .275 hitter who busts his ass will have a .360 season more often than a .275 hitter who coasts. Oh, and as godawful as its script was, Gran Torino was great fun to watch.

First, stretching a bore like Harry to five films was a filmically depraved thing to do.
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before. Saw an interview with Michael Caine where the interviewer actually asked him why he'd appeared in so many awful movies. He looked surprised for a moment and then said something very close to, "their checks cleared". (and added something like I act for a living)

Also explained that he didn't direct for much the same reason. He could act in many more movies than he could direct (and was always in demand)

Also said that he'd take some roles without even reading the script if they were being shot in an interesting location.


If someone can pick up a mil or three for a months work, or hang out with fun people in Rio and get paid, more power to them. It's reasonable to expect your rep as an artist to take a hit, though, in some measure because when you're always working, and don't distinguish between things of value and utter shite, your work suffers. I don't know anyone for whom that's not true. Imagine if between novels Pynchon was writing commerical jingles. There's the occasional Dickens, but everyone else needs a break, or they pay.

The popular opinion of Eastwood actually began to change when he made "Tightrope" in 1984.


That's my recollection as well. A friend dragged me to Tightrope and I was expecting the worst. Instead there was this intriguing look at a haunted man and his doppelganger, who had all the man's flaws but none of his guilt and therefore none of his restraint.

That bit at the end with the severed arm was a little much, though.
   136. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:26 AM (#4357158)
At least Meet the Parents had the sense to derive from something occasionally hilarious, the estimable There's Something About Mary.

Meet the Parents is a remake of a film produced by comedic genius Emo Phillips.


I like Phillips, but the Stiller Parents is only very loosely based on the earlier version, and draws very heavily on the shtiks in Mary for its best scenes, especially those where a scene spirals more and more out of control (for the fake cat in Parents, see the resuscitated dog in Mary, and so on).

She'd have to channel Meryl Streep for a good long while to even begin to remove the stain of GFIII.


Or, for me, the superficial, clownish, Lost in Translation. What a godawful movie. Bill Murray's really tall. The Japanese are really short. Hahahahaha. The Japanese director says 100 words. His translator says three. Hahahahaha. Repeat.

There's no sense of pain, of loss. No sense of desire in the middle aged man for the beautiful young woman. What a fraud that was.
   137. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:45 AM (#4357159)
"I saw it on a plane flight, and even with all its faults, it was still better than the alternatives."

Me, too. For the limited offerings SAS had on trans-Atlantic flight, this was great entertainment. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

then again, i am almost constantly in a sentimental mood, and a father-daughter thang works for me.

then there was Looper.. whoa.. cool movie..
   138. Lassus Posted: January 29, 2013 at 08:14 AM (#4357176)
I'm talking big picture. The Canadians and their roles, the danger, what it meant to America, the fallout, the aftermath, so on and so on.

Well, this was simply a different film you were looking for, I think.
   139. Blastin Posted: January 29, 2013 at 08:35 AM (#4357184)
Yeah, it never seemed to be about that to me at all.
   140. McCoy Posted: January 29, 2013 at 09:42 AM (#4357211)
Well, this was simply a different film you were looking for, I think.

Yes. I was looking for something that didn't feel like a mediocre conversion to film of an off broadway play but that is what I got.
   141. Publius Publicola Posted: January 29, 2013 at 09:47 AM (#4357215)
I also found ZDT gripping. It was really well done.


See, I didn't think it was all that well done. The script was very weak. Most of the individual scenes were well-crafted, I'll give Bigelow that much. But some of them were absurd, too. Like, when they are finally having the big meeting with Panetta to convince him they think they found the compound where Bin Laden is living and Pinetta turns to Maya and says "Who are you?" and she says "I'm the ############ who found this place.". That would never have happened. Never. I suppose the scene was made to make Maya seem tough and obsessed but all it did was make her seem unprofessional and straining to project false bravura. And Chastain's performance was very stiff, wooden and uni-dimensional. All she did was look serious and intense. Nothing else. And the character itself was absurd. If the information provided to backfill her bio was correct, it appears she joined the CIA as an intern right out of high school and was leading the Bin Laden investigation when she was like 22-24 years old. Yeah, right. And I have a bridge to sell you.

There was no time spent on the preparation of the raid. There was no time spent on a discussion of the implications of going in without telling the Pakistanis. There was no time, as Scott points out, spent on the "soft" interrogation techniques that professional interrogators will tell you yielded most of the useful information. I thought it was a bad movie trying to be a good movie.
   142. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:00 AM (#4357224)
Speaking of movies and Posnanski he has reportedly inked a movie deal for his book "Paterno" to be directed by Brian DePalma and starring Al Pacino.
   143. Bitter Mouse Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4357225)
I assume Pale Rider was the answer to abet where some said, "what kind of film could you make if you combined Shane* with High Plains Drifter?


Aside: I saw this in the theater with my step father, and at the end he loudly exclaimed "Come back Shane". It was awesome.
   144. McCoy Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4357226)
One of the things I found amusing about ZDT was the trailers and commercials for it. In the trailers they make the film seem like the focus of the moving was going to be on the special forces and their assault on the compound and instead we got this movie about torture and, well, something else.
   145. McCoy Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4357229)
I've always felt that if they ever did a movie about Sherman or the march to the sea or anything really involving Sherman that Will Patton would make a perfect Sherman. Unfortunately he might be getting a little too old to play him.
   146. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4357230)
Speaking of movies and Posnanski he has reportedly inked a movie deal for his book "Paterno" to be directed by Brian DePalma and starring Al Pacino.

Financially, Pos was sure in the right place at the right time, no?
   147. zonk Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4357235)
So in other words, ZDT is like Starship Troopers in that you can't tell if they're kidding or not?

Pass.
   148. Lassus Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4357240)
Yes. I was looking for something that didn't feel like a mediocre conversion to film of an off broadway play but that is what I got.

You were expecting a bigger film, and you didn't get it. Not the film's fault.
   149. McCoy Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:22 AM (#4357251)
You were expecting a bigger film, and you didn't get it. Not the film's fault.

No. I was expecting a film to deliver something and it largely delivered a mediocre film. Who were the hostages? What pressure were they under? We don't know. I doubt if anybody in the theater knew their names or could identify with them at all. Who was Ben's character? Was he making sacrifices and if so did we feel that? Not really. And the tension? It comes down a phone ringing. How cliche. About the only good scene that sort of showed the danger and tension was the scene where the whole group was pretending to be the film crew and wandering around Tehran but Ben did such a piss poor job building up to that point that it largely means nothing because we have nothing invested in the characters.

For the most part the film ran like they took the wikipedia entry for this event and filmed it.
   150. bunyon Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:26 AM (#4357253)
<Speaking of movies and Posnanski he has reportedly inked a movie deal for his book "Paterno" to be directed by Brian DePalma and starring Al Pacino.

Sandusky is presumably being played by Jeffrey Jones.



So, aside from critical analysis of ZDT, how graphic is it? If you're slightly (or more) squeamish about blood and gore, is it a tolerable movie?
   151. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4357254)
Financially, Pos was sure in the right place at the right time, no?
He was, although being that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time--basically--every other respect, it's not really a great trade-off.

   152. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:30 AM (#4357257)
Sandusky is presumably being played by Jeffrey Jones.

D'oh!
   153. McCoy Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4357266)
So, aside from critical analysis of ZDT, how graphic is it? If you're slightly (or more) squeamish about blood and gore, is it a tolerable movie?

There is virtually no blood. The torture consists of sleep deprivation, humiliation, and water boarding for the most part. Government torture wasn't at the Saw/Hostel level of tortue or anything like that. The assault on the compound is largely bloodless and the blood isn't the John Ramboesque level of blood.
   154. bunyon Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:40 AM (#4357270)
Cool, thanks, McCoy. Not that what you describe is pleasant but Saw/Hostel is what I was thinking. I find I simply can't take that level of gore.
   155. JJ1986 Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4357273)
My problem with Argo was that the hostage characters were awful, both written and on the screen. They each had one characteristic (leader, wife, coward, goofy, Clea Duvall's face) and that was it and they were played at such a subdued level compared to the people in Hollywood or in Washington. It would have been a much better movie if they felt like people.
   156. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:47 AM (#4357278)
I get this notion, but I have never felt like the case against torture was that it was ineffective. Whether it is effective or ineffective should be irrelevant. We should be repulsed by it because it is grossly immoral, and from what I have read (still haven't seen the film yet), the film does a good job showing how repulsive torture can be.

But, a lot of the most effective "torture" is not really particularly repulsive, and not clearly immoral to my eyes.

If you read the Gulag Archipelago, you see how the NKVD/MVD could break people down without laying a finger on them (not to say they didn't do it the other way). But, simple sleep deprivation, disorientation, and effective interrogation can achieve an awful lot, and generally produces less false info than physical torture.
   157. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 29, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4357284)
(Lost in Translation) There's no sense of pain, of loss. No sense of desire in the middle aged man for the beautiful young woman. What a fraud that was.


Wow, as a guy relatively the same age as Murray, I absolutely felt his pain. I thought Murray was perfect in his relationship with ScarJo -- a man who doesn't want to make an ass of himself, who has bonded with this woman and knows that the second he tries anything sexual it will break the magic of the bond. He needed her companionship and to have that, he had to keep in bounds, if it were.

That's how I saw it.
   158. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 29, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4357297)
I get this notion, but I have never felt like the case against torture was that it was ineffective. Whether it is effective or ineffective should be irrelevant.


The case WITHIN intelligence agencies has more been that torture doesn't work not that it is immoral- of course some of that is an argument geared for your audience- if you need to convince your boss that you shouldn't use torture and your boss is Dick Cheney, arguing that torture is immoral is simply going to get you kicked out the door, arguing that it is ineffective and doesn't work might work (it didn't work in the case f the real world Cheney, but it is an argument that could work on an amoral asshat, whereas the morality argument never ever will)

Anyway, in most of the world, most of history torture has never been about gaining accurate information,it's about punishment and deterrence. The Romans didn't nail rebels to a cross to die slow agonizing deaths in public to get information, they did it to terrorize the populace into line- that has been the primary role of torture throughout history.

You have to remember that there are people in this Country who said things like, "Every now and then we should throw some small pissant country up against the wall just to show that we mean business" To people with that mindset whether or not good intelligence comes out of Gitmo is secondary in their minds to the dissemination of the fact to our adversaries/potential adversaries that we just might catch them and throw them into a torture ridden hell hole for the rest of their natural lives
   159. BrianBrianson Posted: January 29, 2013 at 11:22 AM (#4357321)
So in other words, ZDT is like Starship Troopers in that you can't tell if they're kidding or not?


How on earth can you not tell that Starship Troopers is kidding?
   160. Ron J2 Posted: January 29, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4357334)
#159 I've felt that the secret to Starship Troopers more or less working is that they didn't tell the actors they were kidding.
   161. zonk Posted: January 29, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4357344)
How on earth can you not tell that Starship Troopers is kidding?


There are many things that impress me about Denise Richards... her acting chops aren't among them.

EDIT-not-really-an-edit: coke to RonJ2
   162. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4357352)


If you read the Gulag Archipelago, you see how the NKVD/MVD could break people down without laying a finger on them (not to say they didn't do it the other way). But, simple sleep deprivation, disorientation, and effective interrogation can achieve an awful lot, and generally produces less false info than physical torture.


That kind of torture is just as immoral as the rack and thumbscrews, in my opinion. As you note, a lot of NKVD, Gestapo, Khmer Rouge, etc. torture was of that variety. Both Germans and Japanese were put to death after WWII for using such techniques.
   163. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4357353)
#159 I've felt that the secret to Starship Troopers more or less working is that they didn't tell the actors they were kidding.

I think Doogie Howser figured it out... The brilliance of that movie is it works as an entertaining action movie, too. Not quite as good as Robocop but Robocop sets a ridiculously high bar.
   164. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4357374)
So in other words, ZDT is like Starship Troopers in that you can't tell if they're kidding or not?


In what way is it unclear that they were kidding in Starship Troopers?
   165. jobu Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4357381)
Sandusky is presumably being played by Jeffrey Jones.

Depends if you want a method actor (Jones), or someone with experience portraying Sandusky, Jason Sudeikis
   166. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:34 PM (#4357398)
If someone can pick up a mil or three for a months work, or hang out with fun people in Rio and get paid, more power to them. It's reasonable to expect your rep as an artist to take a hit, though, in some measure because when you're always working, and don't distinguish between things of value and utter shite, your work suffers. I don't know anyone for whom that's not true. Imagine if between novels Pynchon was writing commerical jingles. There's the occasional Dickens, but everyone else needs a break, or they pay.

Big-name actors actually "sell out" all the time; tons are doing voiceover work for commercials. Jon Hamm did Mercedes, Julia Roberts did AOL, George Clooney has done Budweiser and AT&T, Gene Hackman did Lowes, John Goodman did Dunkin Donuts, the list goes on and on and on.

It's gobs of money for a few hours of work they can do in their underwear, without the stigma of selling out. It used to be that they'd go to Japan to hawk products (like Bill Murray's character in Lost in Translation). Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harrison Ford, guys you'd never dream of seeing in commercials at the peak of their careers, all sold out in Japan. I suppose the YouTube age has forced them into voiceover work.
   167. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4357402)
That kind of torture is just as immoral as the rack and thumbscrews, in my opinion. As you note, a lot of NKVD, Gestapo, Khmer Rouge, etc. torture was of that variety. Both Germans and Japanese were put to death after WWII for using such techniques.

I'm not so certain. If the "torture" inflicts no pain, and no lasting harm to the person, and generates accurate results, I don't see why it is always immoral.

I mean, it's certainly immoral for the purposes the MVD/NKVD used (getting false confessions to non-existent crimes). But, as part of legitimate intelligence work?
   168. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4357410)
A few years back, when I was in grad school, me and a few other students ended up taking a seminar that our department taught at the War College in Fort Leavenworth as part of an arrangement with the military. So we were in class for a semester with about 25 Special Forces guys who were doing their needed advancement work.

We were talking about torture at one point, and one of the SF guys, who apparently had to undergo what you might call "torture training," said that if he had to choose between being waterboarded and undergoing sleep deprivation, he'd choose the former every time. Said that sleep deprivation was absolutely brutal, by far the worst thing he had to endure as part of his training.

Always found that interesting.
   169. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM (#4357422)
We were talking about torture at one point, and one of the SF guys, who apparently had to undergo what you might call "torture training," said that if he had to choose between being waterboarded and undergoing sleep deprivation, he'd choose the former every time. Said that sleep deprivation was absolutely brutal, by far the worst thing he had to endure as part of his training.

Always found that interesting.


Yes. It's very effective at totally discombobulating a person. That's why it works.

The question is not whether it's brutal; most of war is brutal. It's not more brutal than blowing some one up with a HE shell, which is permitted. The question is whether it is moral in the context of warfare, or quasi-warfare (anti-terrorism, military intelligence, etc.).
   170. DA Baracus Posted: January 29, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4357442)
   171. Srul Itza Posted: January 29, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4357448)
Both Germans and Japanese were put to death after WWII for using such techniques.


You got a cite for that? Because the Germans and Japanese very rarely stopped at that sort of thing. Summary execution was part and parcel of it, once they were done with the questioning. So if you can show me where there was an execution that was solely for sleep deprivation, etc., I would be interested to see it.
   172. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4357451)
Dying ain't much of a living, boy.
   173. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 29, 2013 at 01:45 PM (#4357456)
I mean, it's certainly immoral for the purposes the MVD/NKVD used (getting false confessions to non-existent crimes). But, as part of legitimate intelligence work?

So the ends justify the means?
   174. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 01:45 PM (#4357457)
You got a cite for that? Because the Germans and Japanese very rarely stopped at that sort of thing. Summary execution was part and parcel of it, once they were done with the questioning. So if you can show me where there was an execution that was solely for sleep deprivation, etc., I would be interested to see it.

Concur.
   175. The Good Face Posted: January 29, 2013 at 02:10 PM (#4357485)
We were talking about torture at one point, and one of the SF guys, who apparently had to undergo what you might call "torture training," said that if he had to choose between being waterboarded and undergoing sleep deprivation, he'd choose the former every time. Said that sleep deprivation was absolutely brutal, by far the worst thing he had to endure as part of his training.

Always found that interesting.

Yes. It's very effective at totally discombobulating a person. That's why it works.


Sleep deprivation is far more likely to cause lasting harm or death than waterboarding. A close friend of mine was waterboarded in the course of his military training; he described it as absolutely terrifying while it was happening, but within an hour of it ending, you're pretty much OK.
   176. McCoy Posted: January 29, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4357492)
In other acting news, Tony Soprano's daughter has gotten engaged to Lenny Dykstra's son.
   177. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4357522)
Sleep deprivation is far more likely to cause lasting harm or death than waterboarding.

They do it routinely as part of Special Forces training, i.e. multi-day missions without sleep. It can't be that damaging.

In any case, when we're talking about interrogating people in serious situations, you're not going to be 100% on in treating the subjects nicely. The biggest worry I have in a violent situation like waterboarding is what it causes and selects for in my interrogators. I don't want my intelligence folks being a bunch of sadists.
   178. McCoy Posted: January 29, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4357524)
Well, you don't want them to be a bunch of masochists. That would simply confuse the prisoner.
   179. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4357532)
Well, you don't want them to be a bunch of masochists. That would simply confuse the prisoner.

:-)
   180. bunyon Posted: January 29, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4357538)
The moral line, to me, shifts if it is war or not. Which is what makes all this hard to judge - are we at war or not? My guess is that a large percentage of the folks arguing the anti-waterboarding, anti-sleep deprivation angle would also say we aren't currently at war while those arguing the other side of it would say that we are at war.

During a declared war - WWII, for example - I could go along with pretty severe methods to generate accurate intelligence. Methods that I would in no way support, no matter their efficacy, as a means of crime fighting or peacetime spying. As stated above, war is hell and horrible, disgusting and otherwise immoral acts are not only condoned but used with abandon. Perhaps it should not be so, but it is.

So, the question then, if you have an Al-Queda bad guy in your interrogation room: do you and he exist in a state of war?
   181. McCoy Posted: January 29, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4357546)
In war you have at least two sides of combatants. If you condone torture and use torture then it is likely the other side will do the same to their prisoners. I doubt most sides want that stuff happening to their side or themselves which is also why for the most part gas didn't get used in WWII in combat situations despite the Nazi showing they weren't afraid to use poisonous gas.
   182. The Good Face Posted: January 29, 2013 at 03:15 PM (#4357559)
Sleep deprivation is far more likely to cause lasting harm or death than waterboarding.

They do it routinely as part of Special Forces training, i.e. multi-day missions without sleep. It can't be that damaging.


The dose makes the poison. A couple days here or there is something most folks can recover from, and that's generally all you'd need for interrogations. Even tough guys get pretty soft after a few days with no sleep. Once you start getting into longer periods, sleep deprivation can cause psychosis and ultimately death.
   183. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4357570)
They do it routinely as part of Special Forces training, i.e. multi-day missions without sleep. It can't be that damaging.


Yes, because staying up for a couple days without being able to get much sleep is the same as sleep-deprivation + stress positions used for torture. You win the "most facile comparison" prize for the thread.
   184. Lassus Posted: January 29, 2013 at 03:41 PM (#4357596)
I can't believe I'm saying this, but discussing with McCoy how much Argo did or didn't suck was actually more enjoyable than where this thread has ended up.
   185. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4357629)
The dose makes the poison. A couple days here or there is something most folks can recover from, and that's generally all you'd need for interrogations. Even tough guys get pretty soft after a few days with no sleep. Once you start getting into longer periods, sleep deprivation can cause psychosis and ultimately death.

Concur. I'd agree that prolonged deprivation crosses the line to torture.

Yes, because staying up for a couple days without being able to get much sleep is the same as sleep-deprivation + stress positions used for torture. You win the "most facile comparison" prize for the thread.

They don't need to keep you up for more than a couple of days to break 99% of people. No stress positions needed. Just have them stand in a room, with someone to wake them if they sleep. They'll even be nice to you sometimes, e.g. give you a good meal with plenty of booze, to get you talking.
   186. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:18 PM (#4357634)
I've seen Argo, Lincoln, and Les Mis. All of them were good, none GREAT. Argo was the most entertaining and just solid all the way around. Lincoln has some flaws, but DDL is amazing, and the other actors are very, very good. I have mixed feelings about Les Mis. Russell Crowe is distractingly bad, and I didn't like the cinematography. It felt oddly cramped. I also thought the pacing was a little odd. But Hathaway was great and the other actors were very good.
   187. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4357645)
I really enjoyed Les Mis. But then, I'm a sucker for earnest, overly emotive bombast. Crowe was really distracting, though.

Of the best picture nominees I still need to see Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, and Amour. I should do SLP and Amour back to back for some mood whiplash.
   188. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4357654)
Sleep deprivation is far more likely to cause lasting harm or death than waterboarding.

They do it routinely as part of Special Forces training, i.e. multi-day missions without sleep. It can't be that damaging.

The dose makes the poison. A couple days here or there is something most folks can recover from, and that's generally all you'd need for interrogations. Even tough guys get pretty soft after a few days with no sleep. Once you start getting into longer periods, sleep deprivation can cause psychosis and ultimately death.


another key is that even small periods of REM sleep, even as short as 2-3 minutes can do wonders in warding off psychosis- if you are sleep depriving someone for the purpose of torture, you are not even gonna let them get that- in studies that makes a big difference- there's actually a huge difference between 48 straight hours with no REM sleep and 24 hours no REM, Rem for 2 minutes, 24 hours no REM.
   189. Greg K Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4357656)
I usually have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to movies, so I'm glad my reading of Les Mis (re: Crowe) is one that was obvious to others.

Of course, that movie would have had to have been pretty vigorously awful for me not to love it, so in a general sense I'm not even going to bother trying to evaluate it objectively. It was impressive that it actually got me to forget my intense (and largely baffling) dislike of Eddie Redmayne for a couple hours...but the Crowe thing was unavoidable.
   190. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:34 PM (#4357657)

You got a cite for that? Because the Germans and Japanese very rarely stopped at that sort of thing. Summary execution was part and parcel of it, once they were done with the questioning. So if you can show me where there was an execution that was solely for sleep deprivation, etc., I would be interested to see it.


Some citations:

Japanese war crimes trials and executions for waterboarding: Link. Another link.

Nazi war crimes trials for waterboarding and sleep deprivation: Link

The Mississippi Supreme Court in 1926 defined waterboarding as torture: Link.

U.S. prosecutions of American soldiers who waterboarded Filipinos during the 1899-1901 Filipino Insurrection: Link
   191. Greg K Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4357660)
another key is that even small periods of REM sleep, even as short as 2-3 minutes can do wonders in warding off psychosis- if you are sleep depriving someone for the purpose of torture, you are not even gonna let them get that- in studies that makes a big difference- there's actually a huge difference between 48 straight hours with no REM sleep and 24 hours no REM, Rem for 2 minutes, 24 hours no REM.

Is it sad that I was about to make a similar comment, and then realized that my knowledge in the area is almost entirely grounded in a Star Trek TNG episode?
   192. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:51 PM (#4357671)
Of course, that movie would have had to have been pretty vigorously awful for me not to love it


Yeah, same here. I'm a sucker for Les Mis, when I got out of the theater I wanted to go throw up some barricades.

realized that my knowledge in the area is almost entirely grounded in a Star Trek TNG episode?


THERE. ARE. FOUR. LIGHTS.
   193. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:02 PM (#4357685)
another key is that even small periods of REM sleep, even as short as 2-3 minutes can do wonders in warding off psychosis- if you are sleep depriving someone for the purpose of torture, you are not even gonna let them get that- in studies that makes a big difference- there's actually a huge difference between 48 straight hours with no REM sleep and 24 hours no REM, Rem for 2 minutes, 24 hours no REM.


Why don't you just admit you hate America and want the terrorists to kill us all because you hate freedom?

I'm glad I lived through the early-aughts.
   194. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:04 PM (#4357693)
Is it sad that I was about to make a similar comment, and then realized that my knowledge in the area is almost entirely grounded in a Star Trek TNG episode?


I don't recall that ep

my knowledge is almost entirely grounded in a textbook chapter I read in college over 20 years ago

edit after looking up at 192 I now remember that episode... B5 actually did it better when Sheridan was captured... among other things the guards beat the crap out of him before the interrogator started in, the Cardassians OTOH were practically pussies.
   195. ursus arctos Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4357701)
Posnanski is leaving Sports on Earth (after less than a year, just like SI) and joining NBC.

It's as if he just can't settle down since he left the Kansas City Star; Sports on Earth seemed the perfect platform for him.
   196. Greg K Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4357704)

I don't recall that ep

"Night Terrors". As it's a Troi heavy episode it's perhaps best that you can't remember. The ship is stranded and no one's getting REM sleep, so they all go crazy and start killing each other. As Data has no soul (and therefore doesn't need REM sleep), he saves the day.
   197. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:21 PM (#4357711)
Sleep deprivation will really mess up your head.

I have super-bad sleep apnea (150+ incidents an hour before I got my CPAP), and before I was diagnosed and treated, I'd spend entire days in a confused fog.
   198. Lassus Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4357719)
THERE. ARE. FOUR. LIGHTS.

You do not mess with someone who stabbed a dude through the heart in a bar fight.
   199. Greg K Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:35 PM (#4357722)
You do not mess with someone who stabbed a dude through the heart in a bar fight.

I think you mean a guy who got stabbed through the heart in a bar fight.

Unless you're saying not to mess with a Nausicaan. Which is probably good advice as well.
   200. zonk Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:39 PM (#4357731)

"Night Terrors". As it's a Troi heavy episode it's perhaps best that you can't remember. The ship is stranded and no one's getting REM sleep, so they all go crazy and start killing each other. As Data has no soul (and therefore doesn't need REM sleep), he saves the day.


I think that's a different episode --

THERE. ARE. FOUR. LIGHTS is from Chain of Command -- Picard is being tortured by the Cardassians and his interrogator (who employs sleep and sensory deprivation) is trying to break him by getting him to say there are five lights, not four.

Night Terrors involves the enterprise stuck in a Tichon's rift with another ship and the key to getting out is troi recognizing that the two lights/one moon circling is actually symbolizing the needed hydrogen to get both ships out of the rift.

....and I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I had to google none of that -- though, I'm only 80% sure the Picard/Cardassian episode (I think it's a two parter) is called 'Chain of Command'.
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